Friday, 25 June 2010

The Neuropsychology and Psychiatric Consequences of Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid Abuse (AAS)

AAS refers to the specific use of steriods to increase protein synthesis within cells, which results in the buildup of cellular tissue (anabolism), especially in muscles. More commmonly it is not athletes who seek this effect but recreational body builders. A number of key events in the evolution of this social concern are documented within Kanayama et al. (2008):

Psychiatric effects

In addition to several detrimental physiological consequences*, evidence points to several significant detrimental psychiatric effects of AAS:

1 Increased likelihood of aggression/violence

2 Increased likelihood of mania

3 Increased likelihood of psychosis and paranoia

4 Increased likelihood of mood disorder and depressive illness

5 AAS dependence

6 Increased progression to other illicit drug use



* Increased likelihood of hypertension, elavated cholesterol, heart problems, sexual dysfunction, testicular atrophy and infertility.

Neuropsychological Effects

Unfortunately no controlled studies have looked at long term neuropsychological effects of AAS; and this is partly down to the fact that the phenomena is relatively recent with participants at the very most, only passing into middel age now, and that participants are essentially hard to identify and recruit. However, some research has been conducted with animals into the neurophysiological mechanism of AAS. In an animal study male rats developed a conditioned place preference to testosterone injections into the nucleus accumbens, an effect blocked by dopamine antagonists, which suggests that androgen reinforcement is mediated by the brain. Moreover, testosterone appears to act through the mesolimbic dopamine system, a common substrate for drugs of abuse. Nonetheless, androgen reinforcement is not comparable to that of cocaine, nicotine or heroin. Instead, testosterone resembles other mild reinforcers, such as caffeine, or benzodiazepines. The potential for androgen addiction remains to be determined.

The neuropsychological effects of AAS present an urgent opprtunity for clinical research.

1 comment: